“I personally feel it represents the malaise and mediocrity of the entire corridor”


“Dear PoPville,

On July 28th, a driver backed a mini-van onto the sidewalk in front of Marx Cafe on Mount Pleasant St, incident which was covered here on PoPville. Luckily, no pedestrians were hurt or killed and the restaurant narrowly avoided serious damage. However, there was one casualty – parking sign pictured here.

I took this picture on September 8. It’s nearing 2 months since the sign was knocked over. I walk by it almost every day. Once in a while I’ll tweet it to @DDOTDC or @DCDPW but day after day, the sign remains dejectedly on the ground as people walk by, my tweets lost in the abyss of bureaucratic morass.

Lately there have been a few comment threads on your blog discussing the tepid business environment on Mount Pleasant St, while other areas of the city are in the midst of investment bonanza. The symbolic nature of this sign sitting the ground for weeks was not lost on me, as I personally feel it represents the malaise and mediocrity of the entire corridor and seemingly few people willing to do much about it.”

94 Comment

  • Did you fill out a service request on dc.gov?

  • The only thing wrong with this corridor is the closing of Adam’s Express. It’s lovely to have a street filled with bars and restaurants that have been open for years, a local bakery, a local pharmacy, a local hardware shop, grungy bars, coffee shops, and clothing stores.

    Not every street needs to have the shine and glitter of streets benefitting from DC’s “investment bonanza.” It’s lovely that our city has those areas, but it’s also lovely that I can buy a good pupusa at Ercilia’s for about $2.

    • 100% agree. Plus the addition of Each Peach! I recently moved from Mount Pleasant and miss it greatly.

    • I agree, but why are these mutually exclusive alternatives? Seems like we could preserve the special character of Mt. Pleasant St. and still do better at keeping it (and a lot of other neighborhoods) safe and in general good order. I’d bet that whatever it is we like about that street won’t be hurt much if the city decided to fix broken street signs in a reasonably timely way.

      • Agree. The street sign should be fixed. But I’d prefer if the investment bonanza stayed elsewhere. It’s nice to have neighborhoods with different characters.

    • Gotta disagree. One of the establishments on the strip is a whorehouse in disguise. Heller’s is f-ing terrible. Given their lack of knowledge regarding shoe repair, I have the feeling the “shoe repair” store is a front for something more sinister. But all that aside, the general state of griminess and disrepair on Mt. P St are nothing to be proud of. There’s are some good establishments on Mt. P St. but there’s nothing lovely about it.

      • You are entitled to your opinions on “disrepair” but I can’t have you slander the shoe repair guy. He has done a great job repairing my shoes, very professional, more than once. And he’s a lot of fun to talk to. I get the sense that some people move to Mt P hoping that it will become 11th st or 14th st or something. It won’t. I love Mt P. I drive down 14th sometimes and I am never tempted to get out of my car – the place is jam packed with thousands of interns. To each his/her own.

        • If by “interns” you meant 25 to 40+ year old professionals of varied background and ethnicity, then yes, there’s a lot of them in the area on a Friday or Saturday night.

          If you meant actual summer college interns, then you must have 14th St confused with Adams Morgan, Georgetown, and/or Capitol Hill.

  • Not exactly “nearing 2 months”. More like 5 weeks.

    • Yes, “2 months” is still 3 weeks away. Talk about whiny hyperbole.

      • No but I did I tweet it a few times, which is (more-than-likely) 100% more than any other resident or local business owner did. BTW – I used SeeClickFix 6 months ago for a few other maintenance issues in Mt. Pleasant that are still unresolved.

        • Sorry this was in response to the first comments.

        • How do you know it is more than anyone else did? Did you get 311 report records from the city?

        • I made a 311 request to fix the drain at the corner of Lamont and 16th last November. The front of the drain is blocked because the foundation seems to have crumbled. This also has the added benefit of pushing up a big piece of concrete for people to trip on. The request was acknowledged, but DPW and DC Water both said that the other was responsible for fixing it. Guess what hasn’t been fixed yet?

      • That is a quarter of 20 weeks!

  • For malaise and mediocrity, I don’t think you can top Downtown Silver Spring. Now there’s a place that always seems depressing.

    • Wow! We’ll agree that the transit center debacle is…a debacle, but the rest of Downtown Silver Spring is just fine. Yes, I’m a resident.

  • Huh? To me this “represents” a sign lying on the ground.
    It doesn’t represent the supposed malaise of Mt Pleasant. My only complaint with your neighborhood is that I can’t afford to buy there.

  • Ward 1 residents had better like sitting around singing campfire songs about diversity and inclusiveness because the era of the (mildly corrupt) get’r done business-friendly commish ended this year.

  • austindc

    I wouldn’t take it as a sign. It’s just a sign.

  • Malaise and mediocrity??! The corridor is packed with small businesses and almost zero chain stores. It is a haven. I wouldn’t change anything except the quality of customer service at Heller’s, and the fact that Flying Fish hands you a tub of cream cheese instead of spreading it on the bagel.

    Call the downed sign what it is: a downed sign. And then call the city, instead of tweeting at them.

  • You want a strip with malaise and mediocrity? Come check out the strip of Georgia Ave. between Delafield and Decatur. All the restaurants have closed become of crime, trash is all over the street, etc.

    MtP is doing just fine.

    • Accountering

      They closed because of Bowser. There was a concentration of stores starting there (Fusion, Moroni, Yoga) and then they started getting robbed. Despite pleading to Bowser and Kishner, resources were not allocated to stop the burglaries. After those three places got robbed almost a dozen times in 3 months, they all left. Now we are stuck with what is there. You can lay the blame for this in large part right at Bowsers feet.

    • You can still get Chinese take-away prepared behind bullet-proof glass.

  • Be careful what you wish for.

  • No need to be so melodramatic, OP. You clearly don’t make it out of NW often. A lot of people would LOVE to live in a neighborhood like MtP, rich with locally-owned small shops, cafes, and more. Stop complaining online about a downed sign and actually fill out a service request on 311 or DC.gov.

    • You are missing the point. At the very least I have done something. The business owners who share a sidewalk with the downed sign? Nothing. I asked them. I’m actually quite tired with the heralding of these ‘local’ businesses as heroes. I love local business. I shop at local business. But it is clear that a lot of these local business owners aren’t very engaged in improving the conditions on Mt. Pleasant street.

      • Accountering

        You didn’t make this point in the original post, but I tend to agree. If I owned a small restaurant or business, I would make a point of having the city come and fix this crap. There is only so much you can control, and the appearance of your place is in large part one of them. I would have been agitating like hell to get this fixed if that was in front of my business.

        • “There is only so much you can control, and the appearance of your place is in large part one of them.”

          I agree 100% which is why this issue irritated me. There are a lot of places on Mt. Pleasant street that have very shabbily maintained storefronts that could be improved with an inexpensive coat of paint or a repaired sign. I stick to my original line – malaise and mediocrity.

          • Couldn’t agree more. There are numerous dumpy looking store fronts on Mt. P. I’m not going to sing the praises of a small business just because it’s a small business if it won’t do its own small part to help the way the neighborhood looks and feels.

        • justinbc

          It would be great if you could just “make the city come fix things”, but it doesn’t seem to work quite that efficiently, and not just in this example.

      • How do you know that area businesses haven’t also been furiously Tweeting DDOT?
        Have you reached out to Jim Graham’s office, by the way? I’m not sure how he’s doing since the primary loss but when I lived in Ward 1 dude got s#!t DONE.
        Edit: PoP, this is my first post today — I am certainly not “posting comments too quickly” and like a Maryland driver on NH Ave I refuse to “slow down”. Please address this shortcoming in your comment system before I file a 311 request via Tweet Deck 😉

      • saf

        Call 311. Tweeting does not create a record. Also, it’s DDOT, not DPW.

  • Not having chain stores doesn’t mean the area is thriving. The stores along the street are woefully one dimensional, in that their target audience is low-income workers only. How many laundromats and bodegas does a three block stretch need? There’s almost nothing of merit to draw in middle-income people (Heller’s Flying Fish, Each Peach, and Beau Thai are about it). The homes to the west of Mt P are worth a ton of money, but barely any business targets that audience. Because it’s not a desirable area for better businesses to open up shop you wind up with broken signs, as mentioned in the post, garbage and liquor bottles strewn about, and a tolerance for public intoxication because the people who frequent the area don’t care.

    • But people who choose to live in Mt. Pleasant would not live there if it bothered them “that” much. Glitz and homogenous shops are not for everyone.

      • Many of them might have bought hoping that the retail on Mount Pleasant Street would eventually catch up with the rest of the neighborhood.
        Near where I live, there’s a stretch of really trashy retail — a check-cashing place, a few mini-marts, a takeout place that’s so decrepit I originally thought it was a vacant storefront. I bought in the area nonetheless. I’m hoping/assuming that those establishments won’t be there forever.

        • Mt P was one of the first neighborhoods east of the park to gentrify; home values have been high for more than a decade despite the so-called trashy retail. If you want a high upshot real estate investment, there are many, many neighborhoods in DC that off that; most people buy in Mt P because they like Mt P.

          • justinbc

            It’s also possible that the neighborhood is just overvalued, and will bounce back if development continues to stagnate while the rest of the city improves.

          • You only need to look at the school boundaries to understand why MtP appreciated so rapidly a decade or so ago. As families started looking to live in the city it was the last of the truly affordable, close-to-downtown neighborhoods zoned for a Deal feeder. That affordability didn’t last long. Just take a look at the nice little slice carved out EotP on the school zone maps. It’s no wonder the boundary rezoning discussions were so contentious. If you took that away, housing prices would absolutely suffer in MtP.

          • People buy in Mount Pleasant because they like Mount Pleasant overall. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re thrilled with the retail/restaurant options on Mount Pleasant Street.

    • You’re assuming that middle-income people don’t like pupusas. You’re wrong.

    • The entire city is turning into a haven for high earners, Mt. Pleasant doesn’t need to as well. We still have low-income residents in DC and they deserve to be able to access affordable services in their own neighborhood. Not everyone wants or can afford $15 cocktails and single-sourced, free range, organic produce. Also, the maligned check cashing businesses, unfortunately, provide very important banking services to those who do not have access to traditional banks. Mt. Pleasant is an economically diverse neighborhood and I think the businesses on the strip reflect that well.

      • We’re not talking high earners; we’re talking people above the poverty line. Almost every business on the strip is targeting the lower end of the market. No one said that they wanted Mt P to become 14th Street with its $15 cocktails, but I think that the general consensus is that the area is almost entirely devoid of any business of merit. The population of the area may be diverse, but the businesses very much are not.

        • “the strip is targeting the lower end of the market.”
          “the area is almost entirely devoid of any business of merit.”
          Merit to whom?

        • No. Just, no.

          Have you ever walked into Haydee’s or Ercilia’s or Don Juan’s or Heller’s? They’re just targeting and frequented by normal, middle of the road people. I’ve ate and danced at Haydee’s with a bunch of lawyer and public interest friends, and it’s a delightful place in a delightful area that reminds me of growing up in a small town with a main street.

          • +1000. To have that quirky, slightly quieter yet still somewhat vibrant “main street feel” in such a convenient urban location is why I loved it.

          • I’ve been to all of those places and would consider every one of them a dive. People who live in the area don’t have much in the way of choices, which is why you see lawyers and public interest people there.

        • That’s not true. Look at Tonic and their “speakeasy” bar with pricey cocktails. They couldn’t hack it because there wasn’t enough business to support that high end business model and were forced to close down.
          So yeah, the “people of merit” in Mt. Pleasant don’t seem to want to spend their money in the area even when they have a “place of merit” to spend their money. I guess everyone is carrying too high of a PITI to enjoy a nice meal in their ‘hood?

          • Their cocktails were terrible and service was abysmal. That might have had something do with them not being able to hack it in Mt. P. I would have been a frequent customer had it been worth the money.

          • Tonic was in no way, shape, or form a speakeasy, or a higher-end place. It was a neighborhood bar, and it was an undistinguished one.

        • Yikes. Speaking as a Mt P resident firmly in the sacred middle income bracket, I frequent a lot of the business you’re referring to as not of merit, and I think most of them have plenty of merit. Minimarts, pupuserias, and cheap bars are NOT exclusively low income; and I like that my neighborhood businesses cater to a diverse and interesting clientele. If I wanted to live in Logan circle I would’ve moved there instead.

    • And soon we’ll have a Subway on Mt. P street too. Awesome.

    • You just named 4 businesses on a small five or so block stretch that cater to your desired “audience.” Plus Radius,the Raven, Marx Cafe, Haydees, the new place going where Tonic used to be. Plus the farmer’s market, a bank, Dos Gringos, etc. The neighborhood is not the whistle-glean manufactured stretch that some areas are, but it is an ideal neighborhood for a “middle-income” person. I used to live there and loved it.

      • Raven, Marx, and Haydees, and Dos Gringos are all dives. No one said that this should be 14th Street, but the difference between the businesses that set up shop and the demographics of the area is pretty stark. The only things “ideal” about the area is that there are a lot of rent controlled buildings, and it’s safer than Columbia Heights.

        • You’re using a bizarre definition of “dive.” Dos Gringos is bobo central. For god’s sake, it serves sundried tofu paninis and tapenade. It’s pretty mediocre stuff, but if that were the standard for dive half of José Andres’ places would qualify.

    • Yes, yes, and yes again. As I have said elsewhere on Popville, the retail in Mt. P does not reflect the enormous demographic change it has undergone and continues to undergo, at least partially because there is apparently an element of the community that seems to want to freeze Mt. P St in some grungy time warp. These also seem to be the same people who love to say “That’s just how Mt. P is” whenever someone raises the loitering and public intoxication.

  • Am I missing something? This is one sign that’s knocked down, right? It’s not blocking a roadway or sidewalk, stinking up the street, spreading disease…It’s just one sign, pushed to the side that wouldn’t even be noticeable until you come up on it. I wouldn’t even call it an eyesore. You must be quite the crankypants to make one sign representative of the malaise and mediocrity of an entire neighborhood, especially when it’s the DC government, not the local business owners who are responsible for fixing it.

  • clevelanddave

    I don’t know nuthin about the sign and the OP might be correct, but I observe a heck of a nice sidewalk, curb and newly paved street, so overall it does not look like this hood has been too neglected.

    • All the alleys are being paved now too.

    • You’d be wrong. Nothing has been repaved on MtP Street since I moved here 12 years ago. Side walks are filthy. Our ANC is useless about address these sort of problems. MtP, much like Columbia Heights, has a trash issue. Regular street cleaning would go a long way. But don’t count on our ANC to do anything to help that.

  • I’m totally down with the local businesses on MtP Street. It’s an island of realness in a city awash with Panem-like intentions. When it comes to the downed sign, however, I wonder if the fact that there indeed aren’t those large chains owned by influential groups with political influence and connections has anything to do with the slow response for the sign’s removal.

    • It would be pretty depressing if chains fought harder to have the area in front of their business fixed up than any other business. Considering the garbage littering the area I don’t think that businesses really care. Many seem to be focused on keeping their costs (and heads) low. If the local businesses wanted to draw more crowds they could try to form a BID or some sort of association to draw awareness to the area, or at least to spruce it up.

    • +1 billion for the hunger games ref. I <3 living in MtP.

  • Seriously, PoP? You provide a forum for someone to use a broken street sign as an excuse to dump on an entire neighborhood strip? I know this is a blog but certainly you can aim higher.

    • I think that the OP suggested that the broken street sign is an indicator of what Mt Pleasant is like in general: sort of run down and forgotten. I wouldn’t blame PoP for any comments indicating that the neighborhood could be a lot better.

  • Huh? Tweeting is not how you contact the government to get this fixed. Call 311 or file a report online.

    • If those work so well, then a grand total of 0 people have done that – because the sign is still down after 5 weeks.

      • Lol, ok OP. I’ve used 311 several times. They do respond, but a sign on the ground is by FAR not a priority on the things to deal with.

        • Exactly. So would it have killed one of the local business whose customers parked and stepped over this thing for 5 weeks to move it off the sidewalk? Of course not. But none of them did it. Because people seem to accept Mt Pt’s shabbiness as ‘the way it is’.

          By the way, the sign was gone this AM.

  • Right on! I don’t like the looks of that abandoned orange cone, either.

    To me that represents corruption and duplicity, and takes me back to the Arjen Robben’s flop in the penalty area in the game against Mexico. Outrageous!

  • This complaint is hilarious. If it makes the OP feel better, there has been a parking sign laying on the ground in front of my building (a victim of utility work that dug up the roadway and/or sidewalk, if I recall correctly) – I live in the Palisades and its been like that for well over 3 months now.

    • justinbc

      When I lived on 14th St during the peak of the Logan boom someone knocked over a No Parking sign on the corner of 14th and Corcoran which sat unamended for nearly 3 months. Yep, it happens everywhere.

  • Contact the DC Office of Public Space Enforcement/inspectors.
    They will follow up. It helps to comment if someone injures themselves, the city is liable.

  • I love all the comments taking it out on me for not calling 311 or filling out a report on DC.gov or any of the other suggestions. If these resources work so well and efficiently, and someone had done it, then the sign would not still be down after 5 weeks. So either no one has done it, or their requests are as lost as my tweets.

    I believe no one has submitted anything including the local businesses on that block, some of which I’ve asked.

    For the record, @ddotc HAS responded to me on a number of repair issues in the past.

    So go ahead and mock me for tweeting and writing this post to Popville if you want, for the sole reason that I care about things like this. Clearly people either arent calling 311 or filling out DC forms about it – or else it would be fixed already as so many of you suggest.

    • Which goes back to my original opinion that people and businesses in MtP just settle for shabby run-down things as a way of life – in the sidewalks, storefronts, public spaces and shops. Malaise and mediocrity.

  • One last thing…the sign and abandoned cone were removed today. So as it turns out, it’s not 311, DC.gov, tweets, facebook, prayers or any other bullshit that gets things done….its simply writing in to PopVille!

    • I guess I can take this as a symbol that MtP is a vibrant, civic-minded neighborhood full of economic vigor?? Or is this all just an exercise in seeing what we want to see?

  • Your classism is nauseating.

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